PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
September 20, 2023
BB: It's Jets week. A team that we're pretty familiar with here, but still got a few changes, new faces and all. Joe Douglas and Coach [Robert] Saleh have done a good job of building this team from where it was a couple years ago when Robert got there. It's an explosive team, obviously they've got a very explosive returner, a good special teams unit. [Xavier] Gipson's given us some explosive plays. [Thomas] Morstead is one of the best directional punters in the league. [Justin] Hardee's a good player. They've got a good core group of players. Defensively, they're aggressive. Certainly, [Sauce] Gardner has been a great addition for them last year. They have a real good front, disruptive front. [Jermaine] Johnson's playing well. They drafted [Will] McDonald [II], obviously [Quinnen] Williams, [John] Franklin-Myers, those guys are tough. They play about nine guys up there and they all play, and they're all disruptive. But, I think [C.J.] Mosley is really a key guy for them on the defense. He's one of the best, most instinctive players in the league, always a problem, a really hard guy to fool or to get on anything. He makes tackles on the line of scrimmage, and he breaks up passes 15, 20 yards downfield. So, really, really good player, again, one of the best we'll see all year. One of the best in the league for sure. Offensively, it's a big offensive line, a lot of talented guys up there. Four first-round picks, they took [Joe] Tippmann this year. So, pretty talented group. Good running backs – obviously, we didn't see [Breece] Hall last year, but he's a really good player. [Zach] Wilson, [Allen] Lazard, obviously Wilson is a really athletic quarterback, we've seen him before. So, very talented group, great win for them against Buffalo. Four turnovers, punt return, big win, so looking forward to having a good week here and then we'll head down to New Jersey.
Q: You mentioned that they rotate nine defensive linemen in. How does that sort of manifest itself in terms of what they're able to do defensively to create problems for the other team?
BB: Yeah, I don't think they change what they call. It doesn't look like it. Maybe a little bit, but for the most part, whoever's in there can do whatever they need to do. Get in there, play three or four plays, then they get a new group in there. They play hard. They're fresh. They're athletic, disruptive.
Q: Is [Quinnen] Williams one of the best defensive linemen in your view?
BB: Yeah, for sure.
Q: What does he do well?
BB: Everything. Franklin-Myers, Williams, Johnson, just go right down the line, they're all disruptive. [Bryce] Huff, they're all a problem.
Q: Do you have an update on Marcus Jones' health?
BB: Still working on it.
Q: What about Jon Jones? Is he somebody that you would anticipate being able to practice today?
BB: We'll see. We'll put out the injury report after practice, let you know how it goes.
Q: The big story with the Jets, obviously, is Aaron Rodgers. You've said many times in the past how much you respect him and everything. Is there any part of you that, as a competitor, wishes he was going to be on the field this Sunday?
BB: Look, all of that is out of my control. So, I like Aaron, hope he has a good recovery, wishing him the best health-wise. But, focused on the Jets now and the guys that are going to be playing.
Q: Given his arrival was certainly a big deal and a division opponent, had you done a lot of work on him through training camp and things like that?
BB: He only played one series, whenever it was. We're focused on the guys that are playing. That's who is going to be out there on Sunday. So, Aaron's a great quarterback, a Hall of Fame quarterback. But, we're going to focus on the guys who are going to play.
Q: Offensively, what would you say the identity of that unit is for you guys right now?
BB: Well, that will fluctuate a little bit from game to game. So, we'll do what we think is best each game, try to score as many points as we can.
Q: Is there an offensive identity that you would like for the team to lean towards?
BB: I'd like to score as many points as possible, yeah. More than the other team. I mean, what do you want to do? Run the ball 50 times, is that a goal? Alright, well if you win, that's great. If you don't, then, you know. We've won games throwing three passes and we've won games throwing 50 passes. So, you do what you need to do to win.
Q: Would you like to be able to run it more? I think we've heard in the past – players, maybe you, I'm not sure – tough teams run the ball, stop the run, cover kicks.
BB: You want all of your plays to be good plays – runs, passes, kicks, returns. You want them all to be good. That's why you call them.
Q: How big of a challenge does Sauce Gardner present in the Jets secondary?
BB: Yeah, he's a good player, really long, good ball skills. You make a mistake around him, he's going to turn it over. Defensive rookie of the year last year, 20 pass breakups or whatever it was. He's definitely a problem. He's over 6-2, athletic kid with good ball skills. He's a hard guy to throw on.
Q: We've heard a lot from players about avoiding first-quarter turnovers and starting faster, making corrections from the last two weeks on Sunday. What other corrections would you like to see to give you the best chance to win against the Jets?
BB: Well, again, the Jets are different than the last two teams we've played, and there will be a different opponent next week. Our targets against the Jets are very specific to the Jets.
Q: Is there anything that you can take though, from the last two weeks, mistakes to avoid, things to correct to apply to the Jets?
BB: Yeah, we've talked about all those and moved on, get ready for the Jets here. Apply them to the Jets – some will apply, some probably not so much.
Q: You guys have won seven straight games at their house, 14 overall against the Jets. Why have you had so much success against this team?
BB: Yeah, I don't think any of those games in the past matter. We're worried about this week's game.
Q: How does the Jets run game change when Breece Hall vs. Dalvin Cook is in, and what different challenges do they present?
BB: Yeah, both really good. They both can create explosive plays. It's like any other running game, backs need space to run. So, if we do a good job defending the plays, then there will be less space for the backs, no matter who it is. If those guys get into space, then there will be a problem. They've shown that.
Q: When you start the rundown on the Jets personnel on special teams, after Gibson's return, that's been a unit that's made plays for them. I was curious yesterday, Cam [Achord] was talking about the process working with Joe [Houston] and Joe [Judge]. He used the phrase 'three heads are better than one'. How would you describe the collaborative process of those coaches preparing special teams and kind of the challenge going into this game with the Jets?
BB: Well, Coach [Brant] Boyer's been there eight years, so we've matched up against him a number of times. Some of the players are returning, some aren't. Guys like Morstead, who we played against before last year at Miami and so forth. Just try to put it all together and know what Coach Boyer's scheme is, understand who the players are that he's working with this year. Some of them are the same. A lot of the core guys are the same, but there's some new ones. We'll see what happens with the kicking situation, with [Greg] Zeurlein, what his availability is or isn't. Probably won't know that until game time, but in any case, we'll deal with the personnel and the situation as it presents itself. It's like anything else, when you have that much history on one coach and one team, there's probably 25 to 35 special teams plays in a game, we're looking at a couple hundred just against us, and then you throw in all the other ones. When you're looking at several hundred plays, and there's really only going to be 25, let's call it, in a game, you just have to be careful that it's not overkill.
Q: You got a few players back on the offensive line last week, but overall, it was a unit where guys didn't seem like they'd practiced much together between August and now. Is the hope that continuity will help?
BB: Of course. As many healthy players as we can get out there, and try to get them playing together more than, like you said, what they have. When they're available, that's what we'll do. When they're not available, guys that are behind them will step in and play.
Q: Sad news out of Dartmouth football. Buddy Teevens, not sure if you saw, he passed away. Curious if you had any background with him, connection with hm?
BB: Yeah, just a little bit. Great guy, it's an unfortunate accident. It's just been tough for him. Sympathy goes out to him, his family, Dartmouth. He's done a good job with that program, and he's a guy that's well respected within the coaching community. It's an unfortunate loss for us all. Thanks for asking.